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Harikrishna in sole lead before final round

August 15, 2007 22:31 IST

Top seed and defending champion Grandmaster P Harikrishna drew his ninth and penultimate round game to jump into the sole lead to inch closer to his back-to-back victories in Marx Gyorgy Memorial chess tournament in Hungary.

Harikrishna was held to a draw by Chinese Hou Yifan as the Indian could not break the solid defenses of the young Chinese in a prolonged heavy pieces endgame.

The half point, however, came handy for Harikrishna, who had defeated Yifan in the earlier round here, as he retained his sole lead over nearest Hungarian rivals Csaba Balogh and Peter Acs.

On a day that saw legendry Viktor Korchnoi of Switzerland yet again running out of steam against Hungarian Ferenc Berkes, Balogh played out a hard fought draw with Acs to keep himself within striking distance of Harikrishna with just one round to come in this category-14 tournament.

Harikrishna with 5.5 points to his credit is only a half point clear of Balogh, whom he meets in the final round, and Acs, who has to tackle Korchnoi.

Berkes and Korchnoi are now joint fourth on 4.5 points while Yifan took her tally to 2.5 points after holding Harikrishna.

Things did not turn out as planned for Harikrishna as he could not get any opening advantage despite coming out with a new idea earlier in the Queen's Indian defense.

Playing white, Harikrishna sacrificed a pawn earlier but when Yifan returned it, a few minor pieces had changed hands and the Chinese already had a reasonable position on board.

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